Summer Fun – Popsicles

Where I live, summer is upon us already. With temperatures hitting 34 deg.C and rising, it is time to find ways to cool off. This is the first in a series of summer fun posts, with tips and ideas for ways to cool down on those hot days, and what better way to cool off than to eat a homemade popsicle?

Scarlett eating a homemade popsicle – first time she held it alone.

The other day I picked up a popsicle mold set so that I could make some for the kids. Like most kids, they enjoy popsicles, but having store bought ones on hand as often as they would like to eat them is not always possible, nor would I want them to eat those so frequently as they are full of preservatives, food coloring, and too much sugar.

 Popsicles are easy to make. First, get some molds. Any shop that sells plastic kitchenware should have them. But you don’t have to use molds – you can use disposable cups, or plastic cups, or ice cube trays. For the cups you can use a spoon if you don’t have sticks, and for the ice cube trays, use toothpicks.

Next, pick your juice. Any juice you have on hand will work – powder mixes, canned, boxed, or frozen – so long as you don’t care if it is healthy or not. All you do is pour it into your molds, add the sticks, and freeze. You could even add some chopped or blended fruit to the juice for extra flavor.

But if you want these to be healthy and nutritious, then you will have to make your own juice, which isn’t too hard if you have a juicer or blender. Many fruits can be peeled and cut into chunks, then blended (obviously with seeds removed). Then all you have to do is fill the molds, or if you want, you can strain it. But I think thicker is better for popsicles. Some may need sugar; others won’t, so sweeten to taste if you want to.

Orange and mango flavor Tang. That is my cold coffee on the side.

So far I have made mine from orange and mango Tang, a grape concentrate, and banana and milk. While I like my kids to eat healthy, I am not so picky about it always being 100% pure health food, so I do buy Tang and the occasional concentrate since they are cheaper than the pure fruit juice. Also, my kids are fruit lovers, so I know they will eat any fresh fruit I give them and they have them daily. Since it is watermellon season for us, watermellon popsicles are next on my list of flavors to try. I just don’t look forward to picking out the seeds before blending.

Flavor ideas:
– Whatever fruit you have in season. Citrus fruits, especially those with a bit of a sour tang to them are nice. Lemon, orange and tangerine, individually or mixed, are delicious.
-Berries: strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, etc.
-Banana and milk – I added a little cinnamon and a tiny bit of sugar. These should be roughly 3/4 banana for the taste to come through well.

Banana and milk popsicles.

Making tips:
-A bit of lemon juice can bring out the flavor of other fruits when mixed together, ie. with papaya.
-If you just want the juice, squeeze or blend the fruit and strain before filling the molds, otherwise, leave the pulp in.
-For sweetening you could opt for honey instead of sugar, if you prefer.
-Try adding yoghurt to your fruit for a frozen yoghurt option. I plan on doing yoghurt and mango as soon as mangos are in season as the combo is heavenly. Other fruits that go well with yogurt are bananas, papayas and berries.
-Remember that liquid expands when frozen, so don’t fill your molds to the brim.

Grape juice from concentrate popsicles.

Popsicles are a great way to get in some liquid on those hot summer days, and even if you child normally won’t eat fruit or have milk or yoghurt, what child will refuse a popsicle? Making your own ensures that the ingredients are healthy – you know there are no added chemicals or coloring or extra sugar (unless, of course, you are using the concentrates, but hey, no one can eat healthy all the time) – and your child gets a fun treat.

And mommies, while you are at it, make a few extra for yourself, cause you are sure to find it more fun to join your child outside eating popsicles than sweating inside doing housework. Try freezing your favorite coffee blend. You may need to make it a little stronger and sweeter than usual since freezing can mute the flavor. You could also add rum or brandy flavorings if you like, or make a mocktail with the flavorings. I’d say freeze your favorite drink, but alcohol doesn’t freeze so you wouldn’t get a popsicle out of that. Ha.
Above all, get creative and have fun with the flavors. And make sure you have enough molds cause your kids are sure to ask for them daily.


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